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date: 22 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The sheer size of the prosocial behavior literature creates challenges for coordinating the findings, much less theory with research. Furthermore, the variables differ in scope from the molecular to the sociocultural level. A multilevel approach is one way to integrate these variables into coherent scientific explanations. This three-level approach encourages refined scientific analyses by recognizing that the causal variables are usually described as operating at a level lower than the prosocial process to be explained. It also promotes consilience across research areas. The multilevel approach was illustrated using two novel topic areas, one from behavioral epidemiology and the other from linguistic analysis of moral language. Specifically, we applied the multilevel approach to the impact of pathogen prevalence on the evolution of social structures relevant to helping and to the changes in the relations among concepts of sin, debt, reparations, and prosocial acts.

Keywords: Multilevel approach, Pathogens, Sin, Debt, Consilience, Scientific explanation

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